Do Not Conform to their Sinfulness Page 2 of 3 (series: Lessons on Ephesians)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;
4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

Now, Paul goes on to another matter. It has been said that chastity was the one new virtue which Christianity introduced into the world. It is certainly true that the ancient world regarded sexual immorality so lightly that it was no sin at all. It was the expected things that a man should have a mistress. In places like Corinth the great Temples were staffed by hundreds of priestesses who were sacred prostitutes whose earnings went to the upkeep of the Temple.

We are “saints,” that is, we are “set apart ones” and no longer belong to the world of darkness around us. We have been “called out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). It is beneath the dignity of a saint to indulge in the sins that belong to the world of darkness, some of which Paul names here. He warns us against the sexual sins (fornication, uncleanness) which were so prevalent in that day―and are prevalent today. Sad to say, these sins have invaded the homes of Christians and brought grief to local churches, too.

The SINS described here are those which are prevalent among unbelievers. These are the common sins in the world today. All of them have to do with low forms of immorality. Paul is saying that the child of God CANNOT habitually engage in these. Even a slight indulgence in them brings about a revulsion and agony of soul. I have heard this statement many times, and I believe it is true; if you can get into sin and NOT be troubled or bothered by it, you are NOT a child of God. I do not think there is another alternative. But if there is a conviction in your heart, you can arise and go to your Father as the Prodigal Son did. You are a son of the Father, and only sons want to go to the Father’s house. I have never heard of a pig that wanted to go there. The sins listed here are low sins which characterize the ungodly person.

When you as a believer go to God to confess your sins, you don’t just bundle them up and hand the bundle to God. It is not a wholesale affair. Rather, you spell out each sin to Him. For example, if you have a biting tongue and are a gossip that hurts people, tell Him that is your sin. When you go to God in confession and name the specific sin, it restores fellowship with Him. These sins are sins that believers drop into sometimes. When they do, they are to confess them to God.

The great need of all believers is to go to God and tell Him what is really in our hearts. Someone may say, “It is just unbelievable that Christians would even commit such sins as are listed here.” Friend, if you have been a Christian for any time at all, you would know that they do fall into these sins. Many Christian people feel that they have committed an unpardonable sin, but they have not. There is a way back to God!

“Fornication” is accepted by the world as normal conduct. It is a sin that is looked upon as NOT being very bad. When the gross immorality of the hour started creeping in, it was called the new morality. Some time ago many of us were shocked when we heard that in the college dormitories the boys and girls were in the same building but on different floors. Now it has changed so that boys and girls are roommates. When I went to college the boys could visit in the living room of the girls’ dormitory. And I still think that is the best way to do it. I’ll stick with the Bible. Fornication is a sin. Regardless of where you are or who you are, if you are living in fornication today, you cannot be a child of God. Someone may say, “Wait a minute. You said the child of God could confess a sin and come back into fellowship with God.” That is right, but a child of God cannot confess a sin and then persist in living in that sin. That is a dead giveaway that such a person is NOT a child of God.

“All uncleanness” includes all forms of immorality.

“Covetousness” may seem out of place following “fornication” and “uncleanness,” but these sins are just different expressions of the same basic weakness of a fallen nature―uncontrolled appetite. The fornicator and the covetous person each desire to satisfy the appetite by taking what does not belong to them. “Covetousness” is a greedy selfish desire—and NOT just for money or material wealth. It may be a desire to be mentally superior to someone else. It could be coveting a home or a position. Some people would love to be president of something. Of course, it also includes the coveting of MONEY. It has been said that the miser thinks dollars are flat so he can stack them, and the prodigal thinks they are round so he can roll them. Whether one stacks them or spends them, covetousness means gaining everything for your own selfish ends. The lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes (1 John 2:16{4]) would describe these three sins. “Let there be not even a hint of these sins!” said Paul.

“Let it not be once named among you.” This means they are not to be spoken of with approval or desire. Obviously, I am naming the sins with neither approval nor yearning. These sins are to be so foreign to Christians that not the slightest intimation or suspicion of their presence among them can occur.

“Filthiness” speaks of the utmost in depravity. These are the low-down, dirty things one hears today.

Two indications of a person’s character are what makes him laugh and what makes him cry. The saint of God sees nothing humorous in obscene language or gestures. “Foolish talking” does not mean innocent humor but rather senseless conversation that cheapens the man and does not edify or minister grace to the hearers (Eph 4:29). Paul is not condemning small talk because much conversation falls into that classification. He is condemning foolish talk that accomplishes no good purpose. So, “foolish talking” means to gloat, or brag about sinning. Have you ever heard men or even women boast about how much they drank at a party? Have you heard them boast of their conquests in the realm of sex? That is “foolish talking.”

“Jesting” does NOT mean good, clean humor—I’d be guilty if jesting meant that. Jesting means to make light of sensuality and immorality. It means telling dirty stories. This suggests a certain kind of conversationalist who can turn any statement into a VULGAR jest. The gift of wit is a blessing, but when it is attached to a filthy mind or an immoral motive, it becomes a curse. There are quick-witted people who can pollute any conversation with jests that are always inappropriate (out of place). How much better it is for us to be quick to give thanks! This is certainly the best way to give glory to God and keep the conversation pure. Christians who have God’s Word in their hearts (Colossians 3:16{5]) will always season their speech with salt (Colossians 4:6{6]); for grace in the heart means grace on the lips.

“But rather giving of thanks” is to be an element of Christian conversation. I read that a preacher said, I would often play golf with a very wonderful Christian layman whom I loved in the Lord. Sometimes an unsaved man would join us. He would make a few bad shots, and then he would lose his temper. He would ask God to damn the golf course, and sand traps, his golf clubs, and anything else he could think of. My friend would always say, “Praise the Lord, bless the Lord.” The unbeliever would ask, “Why do you say that?” the Christian would ask, why do you take God’s name in vain?” the reply would be, “It’s a habit.” “It’s also a habit with me,” my friend would say. “Every time I hear a man ask God to damn something, I praise and thank Him for something. I sort of want to balance the budget down here.” On several occasions that stopped the cussing. And it is good for us as Christians to make a habit of giving thanks.

5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

When we trusted Christ we became kings in the kingdom of God (John 3:3{7]); but we are also awaiting the full revelation of His kingdom when He returns (2 Timothy 4:1{8]). Paul makes it clear that people who deliberately and persistently live in sin will not share in God’s kingdom. “Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:21). “Whoremonger” is a translation of the Greek word pornos, from which we get our word pornography, and it means “one who practices fornication—illicit sex.” The morally unclean and the covetous will join the fornicator in judgment. Paul equates covetousness with idolatry, for it is the worship of something other than God. These warnings deal with the habitual practice of sin, and not the occasional act of sin. David committed adultery, yet God forgave him and one day took him to heaven. Certainly David was disciplined for his sin, but he was NOT rejected by God.

It is clearly understood that the unregenerate man who practices these SINS has no place in the kingdom of Christ and God. If a professing Christian practices these sins, he immediately classifies himself. No matter what his testimony may be on Sunday or what position he may have in the church, such a person is saying to the lost world that he is NOT a child of God. To live in the corruption of the flesh is to place one’s self beyond the protection and support of a child of God.

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